Hi, everyone. Happy January.
Today’s reflection comes from just beside Chester Creek in Anchorage where I live. I feel so fortunate to have beautiful trails, a greenbelt, and parks that make it really easy to access the wilderness. I find that it is just so grounding, calming, and healing, and inspiring to be outside. Even when I was little, growing up in the suburbs, it was in the backyard that I felt most free and most happy.
Of course, being “out in the elements” can be stressful. If you’re prepared (mentally and physically) it’s the BEST kind of stress. I am fastidious about all the appropriate layers. Reynaud’s syndrome and hypothyroidism make it especially difficult for me to manage in the cold. And, I do.
When people find out that I live in Alaska, one of the most common things I hear is “I couldn’t do it. I’d be so cold!” With the right layers, mindset, and momentum, not only do I survive the cold but I get to experience all of the beauty that comes with it.
It is quite a lot brighter here in Alaska in the winter than you might expect. We don’t have much sunlight, but we have a lot of ambient light from the snow, and, of course, the moon.
In the light, with a lightness of being, with awe and calm, with persistence, and an undeniable sense of connection… we may also recognize love.
It is at our very core. It surrounds us. It motivates us and calms us. We look for it everywhere. As we practice we learn to see it everywhere.
Our next quarterly initiative is going to focus on love. I’ve really enjoyed doing these seasonal practices with you. I hope they have served you and your practice. They are intended to do just that. There’s so obligation, no cost, just opportunity.
Here is another opportunity to practice and to learn some more about yoga for mental health. You can think of yoga as wise action or connection.
8 Limbs of Yoga
Here at Yoga for Mental Health we practice and study the eight limbs of yoga. One of these is posture. If you’re only familiar with the limb that is posture, there’s a whole world of opportunity waiting for you with the other seven limbs!
The limbs that we’ve been focusing on over the last quarter, during the introspective Solstice season, are the yamas and the niyamas. Those are Sanskrit words, and they’re the names for the first two limbs of yoga. These two are the foundation of the practice. Sometimes we use the metaphor of a tree to talk about the eight limbs of yoga. In that case, the first two limbs are the roots and the trunk of the tree. They establish the foundation that allows for the growth that is possible with posture, breath, mind, senses, and all of these other aspects of practice.
The yamas and the niyamas are very similar to the 10 commandments that most of us are probably familiar with. They are essentially instructions about how to love. They tell us how to relate and how to take care of both ourselves and each other.
So, our initiative this quarter is around love. We’re kicking off with a livestream webinar just before Valentine’s Day.
We’re going to look at some of the ways in which we understand, recognize and express love. We’ll use a framework offered by book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman in addition to the yama and niyamas to practice.
Over the course of our initiative, we’ll take each one of those “languages” or ways in which we recognize and then express love and we’ll consider how we can use it to reinforce our connection and intention and potential both towards ourselves and towards others.
I’d sincerely love to have you join me!
Getting started and next steps
You can start, as we always do, by paying attention. Notice when you (or others) use the word “love.” Pay attention to when you feel that sense of lightness, belonging, encouragement, affection that you recognize as love. Notice the circumstances, the environment, maybe notice the people or activities that evoking or associated with this feeling.
During the last two weeks of February, we’ll dive in deeper. For now, just start to pay attention, maybe take some notes.
I hope that you will feel encouraged and supported as we go through these love languages and the yamas and the niyamas again, together in this two-week initiative. And please invite friends along the more we can reinforce shared language.
Click here to RSVP and we’ll send you the link to join the webinar!